IT WAS the biggest naval battle in history – with a death toll to match.
And now a ‘once-in-a-generation’ display marking the heroism of sailors who fought in the Battle of Jutland has almost been completed in Portsmouth.
On Thursday, The National Museum of the Royal Navy will throw open its doors to the Portsmouth public to unveil its newest exhibition – 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War.
The Historic Dockyard’s Boathouse No 5 is being transformed into a stunning visual centre chronicling the naval fight, in which 6,094 British and 2,551 German sailors were killed.
There are still some last-minute touches to be made to the display, but Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general, was confident the site would be finished in time for Friday’s opening.
‘It normally takes three years to get together an exhibition of this scale – we’ve had just eight months to do it,’ he said. ‘But we will be working round the clock for the next couple of days until we finish.’
The Battle of Jutland was the defining naval battle of the First World War, fought over 36 hours from May 31 to June 1, 1916.
Despite suffering more casualties than Germany, Britain sealed victory, securing the North Sea for the rest of the war.
Visitors to the museum will be treated to many never-before-seen collections.
Many items have come from the museum’s own archives or have been provided by the Imperial War Museum.
Some have been donated by relatives of those who fought in Jutland.
Attractions include fragments of explosive shells fired in the battle, and ensigns which had been flying upon warships at the time of the fight.
There will be live-action visual displays and first-hand accounts from those who fought in the battle, showing the chaos of the engagement.
Nick Hewitt, the museum’s head of heritage development, said: ‘The Battle of Jutland is the Royal Navy’s defining moment in The Great War, and perhaps the largest sea battle in history.
‘It’s the only event in the national First World War centenary programme which is wholly naval in character, and at the NMRN we’ve pulled out all the stops to put together a blockbuster exhibition that captures this epic, tragic story and ensures that it will never be forgotten.’